By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
According to Hitachi, demonstrably superior picture quality was the primary reason its UltraVision 53UWX10B HDTV monitor was ranked the top selling rear-projection digital television display over the past year by an NPD TechWorld market research study.
According NPD, the 53W-inch CRT-based rear projection monitor topped sales of all other rear projection DTV monitors between April 2001 and May 2002.
In explaining the model's success, Bill Whalen, Hitachi's senior product marketing manager, said standout picture performance was the primary sales motivator out of a list of the product's attributes.
"That product offered a unique combination of features that delivered a level of picture performance no other manufacturer could match," Whalen said.
The performance was in part achieved, he said, through the use of an advanced CRT-gun and lens system found only in Hitachi models.
"We manufacture the CRTs and the lenses, which no other manufacturer does," Whalen said.
Secondarily, Hitachi last year introduced a new up conversion technology that produced a sharper picture on standard definition television signals — a shortcoming in many competitive models, he said.
"We recognized that the transition to DTV was going to take some time, so last year we introduced VirtualHD, which is our unique way of up converting standard definition TV programming for the DTV platform," Whalen said.
The VirtualHD system up converts standard 480i signals to either 540p or 1080I, giving viewers a choice of formats to watch.
Next to picture quality, Whalen listed the rear projection monitor's ergonomics, which feature a pedestal design style, as a winning factor.
Aside from product performance, Hitachi was able to take a sizable slice of the HDTV market share last year through its strong national distribution relationships with Circuit City and Sears, Whalen said.
"The 53UWX10B was not the smallest model in the line, or the least expensive," Whalen said. "It just hit a sweet spot in the marketplace where this screen size and performance capability was recognized."
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